INTERVIEW: Alec Baldwin, Star of “The Boss Baby” – Animation Scoop

INTERVIEW: Alec Baldwin, Star of “The Boss Baby”

Few actors have stepped back to the plate and scored as many home runs on the media landscape as Alec Baldwin. He’s an Emmy hopeful for his satirical take on you-know-who on Saturday Night Live, the “quizzzmaster” of Match Game, a longtime podcaster, best selling author—and the voice of a diapered CEO in DreamWorks’ The Boss Baby, now topping the charts on Blu-ray and DVD.

Baldwin was eager to share his passion for voice acting during a recent press junket. He talked about the challenge of intermittently resuming the attitude of the character, even though months might pass between sessions (a daunting issue for feature animation voice actors for decades; according to Bob Thomas’ The Art of Animation, Mary Costa rose to the same challenge when voicing Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora).

When a trained actor like Baldwin seriously approaches a role, whether it’s Stanley Kowalski or Boss Baby, it requires exploration as well as nuance, albeit in varying intensities, of course. Nevertheless, even a largely comical character like Boss Baby follows an arc. I asked Baldwin how he how he handled those subtleties vocally.

ALEC BALDWIN: I’ve always been someone who wanted to work the mic that way if I’m doing a reading of a book or a play. I remember doing readings at Symphony Space in Manhattan. They have a program called “Selected Shorts,” in which well-known people come in and read literary material. Many just read in one certain style, while others kind of act it, getting into the mic and delineating the copy, the quotes and the character in the piece. I’ve always been very interested in doing that–finding the highs and lows of my voice in terms of volume, emphasis, pace and taking a really long pause.

I’ll never forget when we were doing Saturday Night Live once when I was playing Trump, when Jason Sudeikis came on stage as Romney and we shook hands. If you watch the clip, we keep shaking hands and just look at each other for the longest beat I’ve ever seen in a comedy show in my life. It went on for what felt like 60 seconds, which is an eternity. Finally Jason, said, “This isn’t going to work is it?” And I said, “No, I don’t think so.” It was Jason’s line. He had to break the moment. I thought, what an amazing thing that he took his time! That’s the basic idea of what I try to do.”

EHRBAR: Let’s talk about the visual aspects of The Boss Baby. Do you have any input on the look of the character?

BALDWIN: I’m not making the movie, nor do I want to. The men and women who do this know what they’re doing. I come in to a highly collaborative process, make my contribution and someone else makes the movie, thankfully. [Director Tom McGrath] knows we’ve got to take this movie all the way to the finish line, then slow down at the end and give it the heartfelt moments.

EHRBAR: How did you arrive at just the right tone for the Boss Baby voice?

BALDWIN: You try [different approaches] and then they may come back and say, “Don’t do that, we want it to be something different.” We tried a lot of dialects. At one point, we created a version of Boss Baby being playful and doing silly things. We had a character we wrote called “Señor Bacon.” I took a piece of bacon off a plate, put it under my mouth, made a mustache and said, “Hellooo! I am Señor Bacon!” and did this crazy thing which we all thought was really funny. But does it fit into the film? That got cut out, although we may do a whole Señor Bacon film. I would love to play Señor Bacon.

Boss Baby is available now on Blu-ray, DVD

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar

Greg Ehrbar is a two-time Grammy-nominated and Addy-winning writer/editor/producer, celebrating 30 years with The Walt Disney Company. Greg’s projects include national advertising, network TV, commercials, magazines and thousands of print ads and publications. Greg’s books include Mouse Tracks: The Story of Walt Disney Records; Jimmy Johnson’s Inside the Whimsy Works: My Life with Walt Disney Productions; as well as Disney Parks merchandise; movie adaptations and records. Greg also appears on TV, home video, radio’s TV Confidential, Disney Parks Blog, cartoonresearch.com, Greg-O-Vision.blogspot.com and disneymusicemporium.com.
Greg Ehrbar
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